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Black Lamb


Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.


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Absolutely addicted

September 1st, 2003


I watch several movies a week and make my choices carefully, so it would make sense that there is a movie that shook my world. None comes to mind. There have been shocking movies along the way, beautiful movies, intense, funny, notable, awful movies, but the movies that excited me were usually ones that reinforced my opinions rather than forced me to some sort of change. Film moves me less than books or music or art or the outdoors. I recognize genius, enjoy the art, appreciate the message — or lack thereof — and am utterly, absolutely addicted, but the printed word is my center.

It may be because I grew up with a very small exposure to the cinema. Not only that, but I have a no complete memories of the few movies I did see when young. I think I saw a Walt Disney that scared me, The Planet of the Apes in conjunction with a slumber party (to the horror of my parents), Romeo and Juliet during a high school field trip, and The Sound of Music over and over because my father loved it. There must have been others, but I’m damned if I can remember. Other than The Sound of Music, by dint of repetition, all details of the films — indeed most of my childhood — is a vague mass punctuated by moments of clear memory.

By the time I was at the university, attending art flicks assiduously, I was fully indoctrinated as a flaming liberal. So of course, Elvira Madigan and King of Hearts were favorite movies, although now they seem a little obvious. I loved Bergman, in no small part because I was supposed to like Bergman. I was at Boulder. One liked Bergman. And Fellini. And Truffaut. And Kurosawa. And I did — do, in fact.

At some point in my long and varied educational experience there were several History of Film classes, and I watched the great American classics and loved these as well as the foreign films, but they didn’t change my life. Enriched my life, yes. Bringing Up Baby, Casablanca, North by Northwest, Dr. Strangelove, To Kill a Mockingbird — I watched them, wrote papers on them, and loved the whole experience.

As the years have gone on and films have moved home by cable, video, and DVD, I have developed a movie habit. I go to the theater when the artwork, special effects, or spectacle is the most important part of the film. Perhaps this dulls the effect of blockbuster specials, but good films suffer less because they rely less on the action than on the entire package. I have seen some really wonderful movies in the last few years and not many dogs, since I am selective.

The Netflix site reports that I have reported an opinion on something like 700 films, these being the ones I bothered to report on. Perhaps it is this welter of images that leaves me with no distinct impression of one really great, life-changing flick. Certainly if I had seen To Kill a Mockingbird when I was thirteen, it would have made a deep impression. The book did, as did so many books that were made into great movies. I know I would have been devastated by Breaking The Waves; even as blasé as I am now, I found it a profoundly shocking and sorrowful film.

So no one movie comes to mind. The entire panoply of film has given me a sense of my humanity and of contemporary history. (Even the historical films are about the current time, e.g. Henry V or the many Hamlets). I feel more identity with people in Czechoslovakia, having seen some Czech films, than I would have if all I did was read the newspaper and The Good Soldier Svejk and all of Kundera, listened to Ma Vlast, and eaten some svícková. •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Owen | Link to this Entry


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